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Logeren bij de ziedende zigeuners

Van zondag op maandag logeerden we in het zigeunerkamp wat ontruimd zou worden en wachtten in spanning af wat er zou gebeuren…

Vorige week berichtten we al over de aanstaande uitzetting van 1000 woedende zigeuners in Engeland. Maandag zou de hel losbarsten en de ME zou de zigeuners desnoods met geweld dakloos maken. Henry Langston logeerde daarom zondag op maandag in het kamp en wachtte in spanning af wat er zou gebeuren… After a ten-year legal war of attrition, Monday was supposed to be the day that 400 gypsies were turfed from their homes at Dale Farm in Essex. I stayed over on Sunday night so I could be there when the bailiff army laid seige to the site at 8AM sharp the next morning.


When I got there, the residents were holding one of their brief press conferences. Things got pretty emotional at points. Various people cried, and one woman told the press that if Basildon council wanted her to leave "they'd have to bring me out in a body bag".

When I woke up, these guys were lazing around near the front gate. Now I'm not the sort of person who likes to go around casting aspersions hither and thither, but I think these two may have had a teensy bit too much to drink last night, because it seemed as though they'd both fallen asleep with their arms inside something called 'The Beast' and the girl had a bicycle lock chained around her neck. This was a particularly reckless piece of drunken banter: if anyone opened the gate behind her, the chain would break her neck and kill her instantly. Not really! You saw these guys on the news, right? If you didn't, she's Emma and he's Dean, and apparently this is a form of protest called a 'lock-on'. The part about the bike lock killing her instantly is true, though, which is pretty fucking ingenious and very fucking brave.

Wandering around the camp, you could see that a lot of the plots were already empty, but others contained elderly and sick people who didn't want their breathing difficulties or battles against cancer disturbed by rampaging bailiffs and screaming riot police.

Inside the barricades, there were more barricades. The travellers had set up various concentric lines of defence so they could defend the camp like it was an ancient gypsy castle. Rumour had it that the men in the camp had dug underground tunnels so they could shuttle supplies around the site more easily. This seemed unlikely, but I guess many of them are builders by trade and if the Palestinians can do it while getting bombed by F-16s, these guys could probably pull it off, too.


8AM was looming fast, so I climbed up a wall next to the front gate. These are all the journalists who couldn't get in. Sucks to be you, Daybreak; thanks for telling your audience that I was a "black bloc anarchist", my granddad won't speak to me now.

I imagined that there would be more bailiffs than this. I guess it was a pretty early start, they were probably all still in bed dreaming about whatever the most hated people on earth dream about. When it got to 9AM and the bailiffs still hadn't moved an inch, people started getting a bit confused. We'd all psyched ourselves up to be absorbing truncheon blows and Alsatian teeth at this point. So what was going on?

I hopped off the barricade and found these guys. This is a little complicated, but bear with me: the girl on the left is attached to a concrete block inside the car, and has her legs d-locked to the guy on the right, who himself is locked to a separate concrete block at the front of the car. I'd say the girl drew the short straw, but she's not being fawned over by a crustie, so swings and roundabouts.

More time passed, and a lot of rumours started to fly around that the bailiffs were going to wait until Tuesday to make their move. Suddenly, the phone rang, and on the other end was Candy Sheridan from the gypsy council. At the eleventh hour, the people from Dale Farm had won an injunction that meant the council couldn't start the eviction until Friday at the earliest, when yet another court hearing would decide Dale Farm's ultimate fate. It was a small victory, but at the very least it's one that gives the residents and activists a few days to add more planks of wood to their barricades, and at the very most, it'll give them the right to live at Dale Farm permanently. A lot of people embraced and danced, and I'm sure more would have joined in if their limbs weren't trapped inside barrels of cement.